A Defending Crusader…

The best defense is to be good and offensive…or something like that.

Taqqiyya – in Grand (Mufti) Style.

Posted by Godefroi on July 25, 2007

Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, has published some Muslim perspective to common questions about the practices of Muslims.  I can only assume that these are “official” – meaning truly adhering to the tenets of Islam – statements, as they’re coming from the second-highest religious authority in Egypt.

From the On Faith forum, “Muslims Speak Out” available here.

The Meaning of Jihad in Islam

Within Islam the term jihad refers to a large category of meanings. Today, however, there are attempts to isolate this term to only one form of jihad to the exclusion of all others.

I have to interject here that most of us who have learned ANYTHING about Islam understand the direct translation of jihad, strive or struggle, can mean one’s struggle against sin in oneself.  However, it must be pointed out that the military use has gained prominence in the consciousness of most in the West at the hands of those invoking that word and meaning in justifying and explaining their atrocious actions against those they consider infidels – e.g. Hamas, Hizbulla, al Qaeda, etc.

This includes a conception of jihad that at best refers only to armed struggle, and at worst to a barbaric form of warfare that seeks to destroy whatever peace may still remain in the world. This could not be farther from the concept of jihad as understood by Muslims throughout history and the world over.

This is patently false.  I suggest to anyone who might see this that they read Legacy of Jihad by Andrew Bostom that has voluminous citations of Muslim writers using Jihad in its military understanding.

For Muslims, jihad is much more than armed struggle against an enemy from the outside for it includes constant struggles within both oneself and one’s own society. When jihad actually does take the form of armed struggle, Muslims are aware that it can only be done for the sake of a just cause.

“Just cause” here is, of course, left entirely unexplained.  Quran 2:191 & 193 says “…oppression (or persecution) is worse than slaughterfight them until there is no more oppression…” and in 2:217 it says “They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great (transgression), but to turn (men) from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel His people thence, is a greater with Allah; for persecution is worse than killing.  It doesn’t take any mental gymnastics for a simpleton like myself to understand these verses as saying that if I inhibit in any way the spread of Islam, I have committed the grave offense of oppression, and can justifiably be fought.


Once, upon returning from a battle, the Prophet Muhammad said to his companions, “We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad; the jihad of the soul.” Here the term jihad refers to the spiritual exercise of opposing the lower self. This is referred to as the greater jihad since people spend their entire lives struggling against the base desires within them that can harm both themselves and those around them.

I wonder why Dr. Gomaa doesn’t include in this explanation of “the lesser jihad” vs. “the greater jihad” that the hadith in which this little exchange is recorded is not considered sahih, authentic, by Muslim scholars like himself.

Jihad is also used to refer to the pilgrimage to Mecca. When Aishah, the wife of the Prophet, was asked about the jihad of women, she said, “Your jihad is to make the pilgrimage.” Here the pilgrimage is the lesser jihad of women and the elderly who are not members of the armies that fight in defense of the country, so pilgrimage, which is a journey that is comprised of great difficulties due to the crowds and the physically demanding nature of its practices, is called jihad.

Because Muhammad had said that there is no higher service to Allah than Jihad in his name (Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 44: Narrated Abu Huraira: A man came to Allah’s Apostle and said, “Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).” He replied, “I do not find such a deed.”), of course women would want to know how they could earn his favor as well.  Since they weren’t allowed to fight in wars, Muhammad tossed them the bone of hajj (a pre-Islamic pagan practice, by the way).  Note that this conditional service only applies to women, children, the aged, and the infirm…not able-bodied men of fighting age.

The term jihad is also used to refer to speaking truth to those in power, so in Islam government oversight is a form of jihad.

In addition to these meanings, the term jihad refers to the defense of a nation or a just cause. This is what jihad was legislated for, and it must be differentiated from indiscriminate killing by the condition that it be “in the way of God,” meaning to struggle in self-defense, to alleviate tyranny, or to prevent aggression.

He chose the word “tyranny” here, but the words have traditionally been translated “oppression” or “persecution”, as noted above.

These are the characteristics that differentiate jihad from killing, which is a crime. These characteristics that amount to “in the way of God” are summed up in the Quran, “Fight in the way of God against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression – for, verily, God does not love aggressors,” [Quran, 2:190]. This verse summarizes everything that has been agreed upon concerning guidelines of warfare, including the first and second Geneva Conventions.

Note how he left out the following three verses I quoted above…imagine, a Muslim taking Quranic verses out of context!  Artful dodgery.

As for suicide bombing, Islam forbids suicide, it forbids the taking of one’s own life. In addition, Islam forbids aggression against others. Attacking civilians, women, children, and the elderly by blowing oneself up is absolutely forbidden in Islam. No excuse can be made for the crimes committed in New York, Spain, and London, and anyone who tries to make excuses for these acts is ignorant of Islamic law (shari’ah), and their excuses are a result of extremism and ignorance.

 “No excuse can be made…”  Again, I have to differ.  It is true that Islam forbids taking one’s own life, but LOSING one’s life in jihad is different.  From Bukhari again, Volume 2, Book 15, Number 86: Narrated Ibn Abbas:  The Prophet said, “No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on these (first ten days of Dhul Hijja).” Then some companions of the Prophet said, “Not even Jihad?” He replied, “Not even Jihad, except that of a man who does it by putting himself and his property in danger (for Allah’s sake) and does not return with any of those things.”  Obviously, one’s inner struggle will not cause one to lose one’s life, unless one actually does commit suicide, which as has been mentioned, is forbidden…and therefore can not be considered a “good deed”.  The only context in which this makes sense is in fighting.  Also, there is in the Quran verse 9:111 “Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain…”  Once again there is the fighting against infidels. 

My thesis to this point is supported by a fatwa from Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi (the deputy head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research), who said: “Martyr operations are not suicide and should not be deemed as unjustifiable means of endangering one’s life… in martyr operations, the Muslim sacrifices his own life for the Sake of performing a religious duty, which is Jihad against the enemy as scholars say. Accordingly, a Muslim’s intention when committing suicide is certainly different from his intention when performing a military operation and dying in the Cause of Almighty Allah. So it is natural that the religious legal status would differ in each case, as Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him says in a Hadith: “Actions are but by intention, and every man shall have but that which he intended.”This means that martyr operations are totally different from the forbidden suicide.”

I find it highly unlikely that Ali Gomaa is unaware of the verses and hadith that I’ve published here, as well as the Eurpopean fatwa.  To me, the logical conclusion of his writing this article is that he wished to blind the casual reader to the dangers inherent in the verses of the Islamic religious texts, and protect those who use them in the manner I’ve described.

Taqqiyya at it’s finest.


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